Kick off the fall with Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. We’re going deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, realtor.com and more. Top marketing executives drop by to share their newest tactics, too. It’s all you need to take your branding and marketing game to the next level.
This post was last updated Oct. 5, 2021.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when trying to reel in new leads. The good news is, individuals and companies are constantly coming up with different ways to generate them.
Sometimes using the latest, cutting-edge tech tools is the way to go, but other times, old-school analog methods just can’t be beat. Whatever your jive, consider the following non-comprehensive list of under-the-radar lead generation ideas, and don’t be afraid to give a little bit of everything a try.
Google Local Services Ads
Google’s Local Services Ads allow users to advertise on Google in their local market and set their own budget for doing so. Clients who find and use businesses via Local Services Ads are encouraged to leave a review on Google once the job is complete, which helps build up a review base.
Users of the ads pay what they want (Google can suggest an amount based on how many leads are desired), and then their budget is depleted as leads click on their ad.
The nice thing about these ads is that leads contacting an agent by way of Google Local Services Ads are likely serious ones ready to make a move.
“These are people that want to do something now,” Robby Trefethren, an inside sales agent (ISA) coach at Hatch Coaching, told Inman. “Basically what you get from these leads on Google Local Services [Ads], in combination with your reviews, what happens is, you get listings.”
Facebook Messenger ads
Most people are naturally curious, which is one reason why sending ads via Facebook Messenger can be effective. People want that gratification of seeing who sent them a message, and what it contains.
“Sending ads to Messenger can get you open rates that are 242 percent higher than email, and offer much higher response rates than traditional Facebook ads,” real estate coach Beverly Ruffner told The Close.
The BoldLeads platform provides agents with exclusive buyer and seller leads, targeted ads, personalized landing pages, and communication tracking. The company also offers agent training to help agents close more of the leads they obtain.
Market Leader revamped its CRM in April, and its lead services these days now largely focus on conversion and nurturing. However, in some select zip codes, the company does sell exclusive buyer and seller leads by gathering data from housevalues.com, a site the company owns which provides homeowners with a value for property they’re interested in selling.
Slydial is a great way to unobtrusively make an introduction to potential leads. The tool allows users to leave a scheduled, ringless voicemail by uploading phone numbers to the app. Messages can even be customized to cater to different leads, and it’s an extremely affordable option at just $0.10 per voicemail.
LeadSpark is a full-service lead gen platform for agents that includes fully managed Facebook campaigns, a CRM, human follow-up teams, and can be used without a contract. The company charges $120 per lead, but tries to weed out leads who aren’t serious by sticking with leads who name a timeline, a budget, a desired location and are either in the process of or are already preapproved for a mortgage.
Some agents find success, and feel it’s worth it, by buying leads from Zillow and other similar sources. Opcity, a realtor.com-owned company, is a somewhat less risky option for agents, in that Opcity provides agents with referral lead sources, but agents only pay for those leads that result in closed deals.
Explore smart CRMs like Cloze or SkylerAI, which enable automation and hands-off services for real estate agents to get more leads with less work. Cloze has an “industry-leading user experience” while SkylerAI is “one of the best” at intelligent workflows, according to Inman’s real estate tech expert, Craig C. Rowe.
Create series’ on TikTok, Instagram Reels and Facebook
TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are continuing to be useful sources for leads, especially as the generation of homebuyers entering the market now grew up with social media at their fingertips.
Creating video content with some kind of unifying theme or narrative direction that provides both entertainment and educational components can be very effective. Don’t forget to link social accounts together and reformat, repurpose and reuse video content from one platform onto another.
Seek out tools and services that use predictive analytics in order to find smarter leads that are more likely to result in a deal. SmartZip and Homesnap are just two examples of tools that use predictive analytics to find prospects that are most likely to turn into future sellers. Being able to target those specific leads helps save a lot of time and energy on bad leads that never turn into clients.
Don’t knock the tools provided by your very own brokerage! Many agents fail to adopt all the tools provided to them by their brokerage, even though there are likely employees at their company whose specific job is to help agents understand how to use those tools.
“Over the last few months, we’ve started utilizing Compass’ digital platform for Facebook and Instagram ads,” Liz Hogan, vice president of luxury sales at Compass Miami, told Inman in an email. “This is a very cost effective way to get out into the public realm. One of my team members has been aggressively advertising digitally and has gotten some great leads from it — so utilizing company sources is also an incredibly helpful tip.”
Cultivate your online reviews presence
With online product and services reviews having become largely ubiquitous since the rise of Amazon, today’s consumers want some reassurance that what they’re buying is going to be worth it. Zillow, Google and Facebook reviews help build an agent’s reputation and credibility, and should not be neglected.
Younger generations of buyers and sellers that are now making up the majority of consumers in the market especially rely on public opinion to validate their choices, says Trefethren.
“Most 25-year-olds won’t just reach out to that agent and work with them because their mom said so,” Trefethren explained. “Ten or 20 years ago, that was normal. Now that 25-year-old will go and look at that person’s profile and if their reviews suck, I guarantee that 25-year-old’s not going to work with them. They’re going to look for an alternative, that’s just how they’re hard-wired. So building a pretty strong profile is an absolute must.”
Take a look at The Inman Handbook on digital lead generation for more insights on this topic.
Host community events
Multiple agents told Inman that reaching out to one’s sphere of influence by hosting free events is one of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to bring in leads.
Neighborhood events like a happy hour or volunteer activity “build relationships and get your name out there,” Dennis Bowers of The Bowers Group at Compass in Naples, wrote to Inman in an email. “These can help make you more personable and relatable — and it can go a long way to build rapport and trust.”
Hatch Realty’s two annual events — a Thanksgiving pie giveaway, and a Valentine’s Day “Date Night” pizza and bottle of wine giveaway — have become so popular in the community that each event garnered nearly 2,000 attendees last year, even over Valentine’s Day when the windchill in Fargo, North Dakota (where Hatch Realty is based) got down to minus 20 Fahrenheit. And those annual events help each agent on the team bring in about 35 sphere-of-influence deals per year.
“We literally invite everybody and their dog to come and take part in the event,” Trefethren said. “It does not matter — they don’t have to be a past client, it could be my aunt, who’s never going to buy a house.”
Contact pre-foreclosure homeowners
Start building relationships now with bank asset managers in order to get tips on upcoming foreclosure properties. With home prices still hitting record highs, homeowners under threat of foreclosure may be very amenable to selling, and might just need the right real estate agent to help them with the process.
Brokers can also sign up with banks to provide broker price opinions (BPOs) on homes in preforeclosure, which is another way to get in front of potential sellers who otherwise might be at risk of foreclosure.
Host first-time buyer and seller workshops
Many first-time homebuyers and sellers can feel overwhelmed by the process and are anxious to do what they can to prepare themselves for the process. Showing off your knowledge and expertise by answering common questions, but also providing some insider tips that may not be common knowledge, may just help an agent gain some new clients once they’re ready to dive into the market.
Reach out to expired listings
Listings may expire for any number of reasons, one of which may be that the seller wasn’t working with the right agent. Keep an eye out for these listings and don’t be shy about calling those listings to see if their circumstances have changed and if they’d be interested in giving the market another go.
Give away thank-you gifts and other freebies
Continue to show appreciation for your sphere of influence and others in your community regularly by passing out small token gifts around the holidays to stay top-of-mind. Nick Slocum, a partner of The Nick Slocum Team, leaves an American flag on lawns in his market for the Fourth of July and pumpkins on doorsteps around Halloween, he told The Close.
Likewise, Nelene Gibbs, broker/owner of Nelene Gibbs Real Estate, said she goes to her local mall and passes out candy canes with her business card attached during the holiday shopping season.
“Why aren’t you staying in front of your past clients, friends or family?” Trefethren said he asks his agents who end up paying “far too much” for leads instead of working their sphere of influence. “That’s where your real sellers are. Why aren’t you showing those people love? That’s where you can create [stupidly easy] financial opportunities.”
Network with other real estate agents
People are relocating across city, state and country more now than ever with opportunities to work remotely still prevalent for many workers.
Agents who have strong connections with other agents in different markets stand to benefit the most from individuals and families making a move like this.
For sale by owner (FSBO) listings can have a tough time with marketing because they simply don’t have access to a lot of the resources that real estate agents do. This can lead to a longer time on market and discouragement, making these sellers good lead prospects.
Chris Jones, a co-founder of Guerilla Realty, recommends approaching FSBOs on behalf of one of your current buyers and asking to take a video tour of the property for the buyer’s reference, then showing the seller how well the video turned out, and using it as an introduction to your services.
Guerilla Realty has also created a free app called Fizbonanza!, currently still in beta, that allows users to search FSBO data in their market by signing up with an email address.
Reach out to landlords
The pandemic has worn down landlords, many of whom were not receiving full rent payments for months (and continue to wait for rent assistance payments to be disbursed), while also being unable to evict tenants who couldn’t pay due to COVID, until recently when the federal eviction moratorium expired.
Some landlords have already cashed out on their investment, and others might just need the right argument from the right real estate agent to do so. Home prices are still at record highs, so it’s a great time to sell, and also be rid of some of the headaches associated with property management.
Contact anyone going through a life change — divorce, marriage, having children, new empty nesters
When people go throw a major life change, it often means their living situation needs to change shortly thereafter. One or both parties involved in a divorce will need a new place to live, couples who get married, likewise, will likely want to start their life together in a new place.
Couples about to have children and those whose children have grown into adults will either need more or less space, depending on the circumstances. Keeping in touch with people whose family dynamics are in flux can be a helpful way to gain new clients and offer expertise to people who can probably use an extra hand.
Connect with your alma mater
Agents who live near their college, high school, or primary school alma mater should be sure to introduce themselves to the school’s administration. Let them know all the great ways in which you help your current clients, and the ways in which you can help their future faculty and staff find the perfect home.
Colleges, in particular, can get swaths of new faculty every year coming in from near and far, even internationally, and those faculty will welcome any leads on an expert who can help them find a place to live.